One of the greatest joys of the selling profession is the extraordinary responsibility one takes on as THE company representative to the “outside world”. More often than not the company sales representative IS the company to so many people they interact with on a daily basis.
To many customers the vendor’s sales representative is the relationship and the continued justification that drives the business commerce between the parties. No one knows, or should know, the customer’s product or service requirements better than the sales representative. No one should know the customer’s business challenges, decision makers, financial status and history of use of the company’s product or services better than the sales rep.
Often an effective sales representative can make or break a critical business conflict resolution among the customer and his company. A strategic company will always leverage the developed relationship between their representative and the customer to maintain the business. If the company cannot utilize their representative in this capacity, they have the wrong person on the account!
The Inside and Outside Selling Functions
A sales person is ultimately responsible for retaining and ideally increasing, sales revenues from his or her existing customers. They are also charged with finding, qualifying or disqualifying and eventually securing new business from alternative revenue sources. This is called “outside” selling.
A sales representative is also required to represent his or her customer to or within his company for the betterment of the customer/ company relationship. Betterment of the customer/ company relationship equates to more sales from that customer. This is called “inside” selling.
For a professional sales representative to maximize their sales revenues he or she must constantly strive to improve both their outside and inside selling skills. Hundreds of books have been written about how to improve one’s outside selling skills, but little has been written about the inside selling skills concept. Depending on the sales representative employer’s propensities or resource levels to “service” their customers – the sales reps inside selling skills must be better honed than their outside selling skills.
Customers consistently demand more value from their vendors for product or services provided. Competition among suppliers of same products and services has traditionally increased along with an unsettling trend of reduced customer purchase loyalty due their cost reduction priorities, often driven by their own competitive market environment.
When there are finite resources within the sales representative’s employer or limited customer service focus coming from senior management, all intensified with competing demands for same resources and attention among other company sales representatives, an inside sale success can make or break the outside selling success for any given account.
Fundamental Inside Selling Tactics
Given the above circumstances of a sales representative needing to grow his or her outside business via successful persuasion of inside the company decision makers, one should focus on the following tactics to improve their odds of overall selling success:
- Strive to get your company management to interact with your customer’s management, professionally or socially
- Eliminate any propensity on your part to totally control the customer yourself, the more people who have relationships with your customer from your company the greater the probability business will increase over time
- Hold people within your company accountable for their actions or in-actions relative to your customer – you are the voice of the customer – never forget this!
- Be fair and honest at all times – representing both your customer to your employer and vice versa. There is no exception to this rule!
- Whenever prudent, document successes to both the customer and to your company. Copy everybody on the success in both directions and give credit to BOTH parties for the success. In many cases, the written document is the ONLY means an executive from either your customer or employer has to appreciate the relationship in hand.
- Effectively and continuously enhance the mutual perception that both parties have of each other to maximize their own profitability
In conclusion, there effectively is nowhere for a sales representative to hide if a customer decides to take their business elsewhere. The sale representative ultimately is responsible for either mismanaging his company’s resources and support of the customer or not effectively communicating or exhibiting the value of his product or services to the customer.